Separated parents may have a child arrangements order in place that regulates who their children live with and who they spend time with. Sometimes one parent does not comply with the terms of the order by not taking a child to see the other parent as per the terms of the child arrangements order.
A parent who is due to see their children may find themselves feeling upset and hopeless if this happens, especially if they have recently been through lengthy court proceedings to try and make sure they can see their children regularly. If you do find yourself in this situation, there are a few different things you can do:
- Consider mediation.
Mediation is a good way to speak openly and honestly with your ex partner about the issues regarding the children. It may be that, with the assistance of a professional mediator, you are able to agree that the arrangements can continue.
- Take the matter back to court.
If mediation does not work, or if you feel it will be an inefficient use of time, you can make an application to enforce the terms of the child arrangements order that are being breached. The court will look at whether or not the child arrangements order has been complied with and, if not, whether or not there was a good enough reason for the order to be breached. It is the responsibility of the person alleged to have breached the order to show that they had a reasonable excuse for doing so.
If the court feel that there was no reasonable excuse for breaching the order, they can make the following types of order which are designed to help you work together to make the arrangements work, or to ensure the other parent understands the importance of complying with the order. These can include:
- Referring you to the Separated Parents Information Programme or a mediation service
- Varying the terms of the child arrangements order, which could include more defined or specific arrangements, and/or reconsidering the amount of time the children spend with each parent
- Making an ‘enforcement order’ which is an order requiring the other parent to undertake unpaid work
- Making an order for compensation for financial loss
- A fine
- Committal to prison in serious cases.
In our experience, it is unusual that a parent will subsequently have further issues with a child arrangements order. If you do find yourself in this situation, please contact a member of our family law team on 01329 822 333.